Bestiary for the five fingers of my right hand: new UNH composition features poetry of Charles Simic

right hand

The annual UNH faculty composers concert takes place tonight at 8:00 p.m. in the Bratton Recital Hall of the Paul Creative Arts Center. Several UNH faculty will be presenting their works, including Michael Annicchiarico, Peter Urquhart, Lori Dobbins, Ryan Vigil, and Rob Haskins with Dionisis Boukouvalas.

A unique collaboration this year involves new compositions by Christopher Kies in which he sets the text of two poems by Charles Simic. UNH Professor Emeritus Simic is a former US Poet Laureate and a world-renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.  The poems featured will be “Dismantling the Silence” and “Bestiary for the Five Fingers of My Right Hand.”

The composition featuring “Bestiary…”  is a five movement piece for piano, bass, drum set, and narrator. The poem is written in five segments, each devoted to one of the five fingers of the human right hand. Kies will play piano, UNH Professor David Ripley will provide the narration, UNH resident artist John Hunter will play bass, and UNH student Brett Gallo will play drums.

When considering the text of “Bestiary…,” Kies says, “I’ve long wanted to try to capture some of his [Simic’s] brilliantly expressed ‘finger personalities’ in some kind of musical illustration. My problem has always been that I arbitrarily thought the individual pieces could only use one finger to play the notes, but when it occurred to me that the left hand could help out, then it became easy. So each movement will feature the entire left hand plus only one particular finger of the right hand in a kind of strange duet.”

The concert is free and open to the public.  For more information, call the UNH Department of Music at 603-862-2404.

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